RALEIGH—A Triangle community is mourning the loss of 21-year-old Army Specialist Darrion Hicks, who was killed while serving a tour in Afghanistan.
The Department of Defense said the Broughton High School graduate died Thursday from injuries sustained from an enemy improvised explosive device.
"The first thing that went through my mind was this is not real. It was hard to deal with, so many of the good things that happened in the classroom started playing back through my mind, and it was truly hard to accept," said teacher Rickey Brantley.
To say Darrion Hicks made an impact on those he met was an understatement.
"Darrion was so balanced. He knew when it was time to do business, he was ready to do it. When it was time to have fun, he enjoyed it to the fullest," said Brantley.
The eager Broughton High School student was a leader, who won National Junior ROTC awards.
"He was the student who knew what he wanted to do when he left high school...to join the military," said Master Sgt. Richard W. Suggs, an AFJROTC instructor.
Tragically Hicks became the first of Master Sgt. Richard Suggs' students in about 20 years to die while serving his country.
While Hicks' life may have been tragically cut short, his legacy will long live at Broughton High School.
"He died an incredible soldier. He's a hero, I loved him and it was an honor to be a part of his life," said Brantley.
Hicks entered the armed services after graduating from high school and was assigned to the 54th Engineer Battalion in Germany.
His remains were brought to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Sunday.
Funeral arrangement details have not been released.